Archive | September, 2010

Eat. Pray. Be Equal.

30 Sep

Elizabeth Gilbert, best-selling author of the book Eat, Pray, Love (now a hit movie starring Julia Roberts) will be lobbying Congress on behalf of the Immigration Equality Action Fund to help pass the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).

One of the many inequalities we face due to the lack of legislation protecting us, is that LGBT bi-national couples can be torn apart due to their immigration status. When straight bi-national couples marry, the US-born partner can sponsor their spouse to become a US Citizen (this is of course simplified somewhat due to blog length, but I digress).

Gilbert’s recent best-seller, Committed, chronicles her experiences as being the American part of a bi-national couple. More than 36,000 LGBT bi-national families are impacted by current law, with nearly 17,000 of those families raising young children.

Mich. Ass’t AG Andrew Shirvell: Social Media Expert

30 Sep

So apparently Andrew Shirvell is on twitter and doesn’t know that anyone can read what he writes. These are screen shots from twitter, from an account bearing his name:

(you’re welcome)

(uh oh)

(d’oh!)

(Can I please make it to your blog? I’d be honored)

(Not at all)

(It was ever NOT on?)

(I bet.)

(Like, out of the closet?)

(Or maybe elected officials misusing the power of their office?)

(Not going to touch this one…)

(Insert your own joke here)

All kidding aside: this might not be his twitter feed.  But check out his blog and you’ll see that his words are startlingly close to this.  Don’t believe us? Check the twitter account.

This man must be stopped.  Chris Armstrong does not deserve to be attacked. He is only trying to live openly, and Andrew Shirvell wont stand for that.

***And as an added bonus***

The following are some photos. The first is a screen cap of the Andrew Shirvell’s own blog where he claims “members of the University of Michigan community are now rising up…”

It’s amazing that the U of M community is jumping right on board with these SCANDALOUS ACCUSATIONS! These brave students, standing up for what is right and moral and decent…

Oh.

Yes, that’s Andrew Shirvell, holding his own sign amongst supporters of the openly-gay student council President.

Lesbians on the Lam

30 Sep

From the Dallas Voice, we find a very interesting story of two young (one younger than the other) lesbians on the lam.

A 15 year-old Indonesian girl named Tn was placed into protective custody by her father in an attempt to “cure” her sexual orientation. Then, her lover – 26 year-old Sj busted her out and the couple is now on the run.

Kudos to Sj for saving this kid from a “treatment” which often involves physical torture and a lifetime of emotional trauma.

Despite this particular story, we’ve learned that Indonesia is fairly tolerant when it comes to homosexuality. And unlike other predominantly Muslim countries, it is not illegal so long as it is between consenting adults and is kept private – hardly Amsterdam, but could be worse.

Let’s hope Sj takes Tn to one of her relatives’ homes who might be more tolerant, lets her get a little high school under her belt and talk about that relationship a little later on.

**It should be known that the age of consent in Indonesia is 15 for women.

Chris Armstrong, We have your back! ***UPDATED

29 Sep

We’ve been following this story out of Michigan for a while now, but its taken a turn for the surreal and its time to take action.  Here’s the scoop:

Chris Armstrong is the University of Michigan Student Body President, and is openly gay.

Apparently this simple truth about Chris is enough to warrant unabashed hate speech from Michigan’s Assistant District Attorney, Andrew Shirvell. His blog, which we here will not link, is entirely focused on tarnishing this good man’s name and his feverish obsession with Chris is reaching new heights.  Just last night he was interviewed by Anderson Cooper, and failed to tone down the crazy or give reason for his unwarranted attacks.

We can not let this go unanswered.  Chris is one of our own, and he is taking a bold stand by being a leader in his community and living openly and with integrity.  It’s cut and dry: he is being attacked and we have the power to end it.

Our friends at Equality Michigan are working very hard to respond to this situation, and we will have updates as they come in.  One way you can help on the ground is to make a monetary donation, however small, to the organization that can have the most effect on Michigan LGBT residents.

Change.org also has an online petition, which we here have already signed, calling for Andrew Shirvell’s job.  Take action with us.

Chris’ story is compelling and he needs our support.  We can stop this hate at its source.

***UPDATE***

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox, who earlier this week defended his assistant in the media, has suspended Andrew Shirvell. He had said before that he had no intention of firing Shirvell and it’s unclear why he is now deciding to suspend him.

Cox claims he had not read Shirvell’s homophobic blog before now, so perhaps his rants proved to be too much.

Additionally Chris Armstrong, who has remained fairly silent about the whole ordeal, filed for a restraining order against Shirvell.

***ANOTHER UPDATE***

Apparently he wasn’t suspended at all and it was just a “voluntary leave of absence.”

A Sell-Out in Riverdale!

29 Sep

In happier news today, Archie Comics announced that the inaugural issue of “Veronica,” which introduces Riverdale High School’s first openly gay character, Kevin Keller – HAS SOLD OUT!

This is the first time in Archie Comics’ nearly 60-year history that a reprint has been demanded of one of their comic books. Kevin Keller’s full debut story “Isn’t it Bromantic?” will be re-released in the limited edition variant cover print run of VERONICA #202 featuring the full-issue story that introduces Kevin. According to Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater, “His introduction was always just about keeping the world of Archie Comics current and inclusive. It just made sense at the time and we couldn’t be happier to have such widespread and enthusiastic support behind Kevin’s continued presence at Archie Comics!”

Bravo to Archie Comics for taking the brave step of telling the story of a high school kid who’s just like any other high school kid. It’s stories like this (even though fictional), which will help kids realize they aren’t so alone.

3rd Teen Dead after Bullying Suicide

29 Sep

Less than ten days ago, 13 year-old Seth Walsh of Technapi, CA was found unconscious and not breathing after attempting to hang himself from a tree branch. The young boy had just transferred into independent study after two weeks back at school. Friends and neighbors knew he was openly gay and how terribly he was bullied but never knew how much it affected him.

For the past week, Seth was in a coma. Last night he passed away, giving his family the gift of not having to make the decision to remove him from life support.

Just like every other story we’ve heard in the past week about these teen suicides, the administration of the school takes the issue of bullying “very seriously.” Perhaps not seriously enough. How many more children have to die before we stop “taking it seriously” and start doing something about it?

Please use these stories as an inspiration to speak out. That’s why we’re here – if we can’t speak up for these kids, who will?

Harassed and Fired for Being Gay

28 Sep

It’s legal to fire someone for being gay or lesbian in 29 states. It’s legal to fire someone based on gender identity in 38 states. Thankfully, Fernando Sampaio is protected by both.

After requesting health coverage for his partner once he became eligible for employee benefits at his place of employment, Seaside Refrigerated Transport, Inc., Fernando Sampaio went through horrific harassment from his coworkers and supervisors alike. Shortly after making his request, he was asked not to use the work restroom because he might “contaminate it.” When Mr. Sampaio did use the bathroom, coworkers would frequently and repeatedly pound on the bathroom door.

He put up with comments such as the usual “God Hates Fags” and his status as a black gay immigrant was threatened with “the definition of nobody is being FNF (fag, nigger, and foreigner).” After putting a “No on 8″ sign in response to the “Yes on 8″ signs all over the cars in the work parking lot, the company President said (in Sampaio’s presence) “I will not permit gays to work here because they contaminate us with their lifestyle” and warned that “I have a way of getting that out of my parking lot.” Mr. Sampaio returned to his truck the next day to find that it had been scratched with a key.

We need to pass the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act NOW! but until we do, it’s good to have brave men and women standing up to tell their stories. We look forward to the results of this lawsuit.

Not all of our stories end well

28 Sep

Now comes this horrible story out of texas.  13 year old Asher Brown shot himself in the head with his stepfather’s 9mm just outside of Houston.  According to the family young Asher was tormented at school for a wide variety of things, not the least of which the perception of the other students that he was gay.

How long?

This is a prime opportunity for us to take action to stop these tragedies and create safe spaces for ALL children.  Coming up on Oct. 5th there is a National Day of Action put on by the Safe Schools Action Network.

This is the reason our children need these protections.

Lets make sure this kind of torture stops by creating safe places for all children.

3 Cheers for Boy Cheerleader!

28 Sep

6th grader Tyler Wilson is an unapologetic boy cheerleader. He joined the Flag City Youth Cheerleading Team this past summer. He didn’t imagine his decision would wind him up with a broken arm.

But being called a “sissy” and a “queer,” and even having his arm broken by school bullies, is not enough to dissuade him. In a happy turn of fate – Tyler has an incredibly supportive mother who is also not caving to these bullies.

Tyler has had an outpouring of support from professional male cheerleaders and has sworn “I’m going to keep going. I’m going to make a lifestyle out of it.” We can’t wait to see him in a few years on ESPN, as we indulge our guilty pleasures by watching the cheerleading championships!

One Nation?

28 Sep

It’s always a good thing when progressive organizations can work together towards equality. This Saturday, October 2nd, the new coalition calling themselves “One Nation Working Together” will be marching on Washington.

The coalition includes more than 300 organizations and their website lists 11 different goals with everything from full equality for women to energy independence to creating jobs. Among the endorsers are at least 25 LGBT-specific groups. Yet out of 11 reasons to march, there’s no focus on LGBT-issues – no mention of DADT, ENDA, transphobia, school bullying, marriage equality, hate crimes, nothin. In speaking to one of the Steering Committee members this evening, he sadly couldn’t confirm any LGBTQ representation among the speakers at the march, but not all decisions have been made yet.

With that being said, it’s vitally important that we build coalitions that will work together – and to stand up for all our allies in the fight against oppression. We have spent far too much time being splintered and it is only when we work together that things are accomplished. But we must make sure that we have a real place at the table – we must stand up and tell our stories.

So go to the march this weekend, and find someone to tell YOUR story to. If we have to change this world one person-one story at a time, we will. Hopefully this will be the start of something good.

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